Knowing a year of college tuition at a state university costs approximately $17,000, Ford High School's 2013 alumna Shelby Reeves is grateful for the jumpstart Quinlan ISD gave her with a full year of college credits earned while still in high school. She is a 2016 graduate of Texas A&M University. All credits transferred from Paris Junior College to Texas A&M College Station. "I am very appreciative of the supportive community of Quinlan. I'm so blessed to say I'm from Quinlan, TX!" Increasing numbers of QISD's students can attend college and will continue to make Quinlan proud at top universities across the state and country because of an invaluable partnership created between Quinlan ISD and Paris Junior College. Quinlan ISD's district theme "Great Minds Dream Alike…Dream Big – Aim High – Change Lives" is made stronger by constructing effective partnerships within our business and school community. These alliances have been integral to meet the needs of Quinlan's student population better. They have allowed QISD to expand programs beyond our school walls to target improvement in the quality of life for all families. Historically, the Quinlan community has an extremely high adult incarceration rate that correlates with a high student drop-out rate according to the 2010 US Census. QISD is considered one of the poorest districts in the state and receives per-pupil funding in the bottom 9%. Providing what is best for all students is our number one priority. We could not bring about systemic change in our area without outside support and the utilization of every resource available. We began building relationships and creating partnerships in specific areas of need. For the purpose of illustrating that Quinlan ISD is “More Than a Grade”, a series of partnerships will be outlined to the community this semester that exemplify our "Aim High" theme. The first partnership feature is our Paris Junior College Dual Credit free associate’s degree program. 2016 marked the second year for Ford High School students to earn an associate’s degree before graduation from high school. Since 2011, Quinlan ISD has provided full tuition, fees, textbooks, and transportation for qualifying students to attend Paris Junior College for free. The program grew from offering 12 hours of free college credit in 2011 to students having an opportunity to earn an associate’s degree. Twenty-two FHS graduates earned an associate’s degree in 2015 and twelve students in 2016. Out of the entire Paris Junior College system, one other student from one other school earned an associate’s degree while in high school. As of the spring 2017 semester, approximately 30 students from Ford High School are on track to earning an associate’s degree in 2017. To date, students from FHS have earned over 4,000 free college credits. Students who participate in the college program become school leaders. They have become leaders in their clubs, organizations, and athletic teams. Common sentiments among Quinlan’s PJC graduates include:
· "I feel fully prepared for college at the university level,” said one student.
· "I had to learn how to manage my time, stay involved in school and learn not ever to procrastinate," another student said.
· "I'm the first in my family to go to college, really one of the first to graduate high school, so I can't tell you what this program has meant to me. I had no one at home familiar with the whole college thing. It overwhelmed my parents thinking about it. This program has taken that away. Applying, getting all of the paperwork and filling it out isn't as scary as it seems. The school helped," another student said.
· "I had to prioritize what's important for me and have learned not to give up. It would have been so easy to give up, and I've learned that I can stick it out and persevere in other areas of my life as well," said one student.
· One last statement by a student was this, "It helped me start thinking about what I wanted to do much earlier and start preparing for it. I have changed my mind a few times, but I know now I want to be in the healthcare industry and can go straight into the field."
Quinlan Independent School District has consistently proven that dreams can come true. A student’s dream to get a college education is not out of reach. The results of partnerships like the free PJC Dual Credit program are impacting QISD families immensely and are continually growing. Quinlan Independent School District has become a district worthy of emulation where “Great Minds Dream Alike.” As Quinlan ISD Superintendent Dr. Debra Crosby wrote in a recent letter to our community, “Our children are more than just a grade.” The 2017 Paris Junior College graduating class from Ford High School, include:
Ashlynn Clark, Hannah Overly, Kevin Thompson, Ashley Felix, Estefany Teran, Sydnee Pinson, Emily McDaniel, Phantaysia Johnson, Courtney Carroll, Araceli Reyes, Kaitlyn Ard, Maria Guevara, Emi'lee Crenshaw, Adrian Barboza, Melanie Lim, Christopher Ross, Taylor Wilson, Cody Harris-Abel, Chase Baker, Tad Serrano, Hunter Cummings, Jonathan Allen, Levi Reeves, William Brown, Kyle Allard, Ginger Chambers, Alyssa Friedrichs, Mallory Jernigan, Candace Linn, Raylynn Turner.